Werner Swanepoel and Norman Jordaan believe that Embrose Papier should be given his first Test start against Scotland in the absence of Faf de Klerk. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The tug of war between club and country over De Klerk’s services has taken another twist. The livewire No 9 has now left the Bok camp to rejoin the Sale Sharks ahead of their match against Saracens in London on Saturday.
De Klerk also missed South Africa’s Test against England a fortnight ago, because it fell outside the international window. In his absence, Ivan van Zyl started, with Bulls teammate Papier continuing in his role off the bench.
In total, Papier has played 27 minutes in five Tests. He was an unused substitute in Paris last week.
Swanepoel, who earned 20 Test caps for the Springboks, says it is time Rassie Erasmus hands the 21-year-old his first Test start.
‘Van Zyl was given an opportunity against England, so Rassie basically knows what he can and can’t do. Papier has been in the squad and on the bench since the start of the Test season, so I would like to think that Rassie is ready to give him a go,’ Swanepoel told SARugbymag.co.za.
‘I know Louis Schreuder is also in the mix, but I’d like to see Papier play. I believe as the season went on Rassie would have liked to give him more game time but unfortunately all our games were too tight, right to the end. But now with Faf out and Van Zyl having had a chance, it’s the perfect time to throw Papier into the deep end to see what he can do.
‘Rassie is clever enough to know to play to his players’ strengths, so if they are worried about Papier being targeted and put under pressure, maybe they should play off No 10 more, just to give him a little bit of breathing space in his first full Test.’
Swanepoel argued that giving any scrumhalf under 10 minutes of game time per match – like Papier has been given – is of no use to the team or the player, especially one as young as Papier, who is still developing.
‘As a scrumhalf, there’s not much you can do in under 10 minutes. It’s like you just get the feel of the game and then the whistle goes.
‘Papier is an exciting player and can bring a lot on attack for the Boks. I’m not too sure how good his tactical kicking is, but that’s why you have a flyhalf and someone like a Willie le Roux with a big left boot at fullback.
‘There are a lot of options to exit apart from box kicks. Rassie should throw Papier into the deep end and say, “Come son, you’ve been in this environment for almost eight months, so let’s see what you can do.”‘
Jordaan, who started one Test for the Boks at scrumhalf, believes Papier hasn’t been given a fair chance yet. He feels the Test against Scotland is the right time to push Papier to start.
‘All the other scrumhalves have been given a fair chance and I have nothing against them, but it’s now time Papier gets a shot too instead of a few minutes in every game,’ Jordaan said.
‘And if the coach feels that it is too risky to start with him, then he should at least give Papier more time off the bench, a lot more time. Give him 20 or 30 minutes per game.’
POLL: With Faf de Klerk unavailable, who should start at scrumhalf for the @Springboks at Murrayfield?
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 13, 2018
Photo: Daniel Jayo/Getty Images